Let's Fight The NAFTA Battle All Over Again-- And Then Hold The People Who Foisted It On Us Responsible
Everyday, the drunken orange golfer who would be Speaker stumbles around the country braying "Where are the jobs, Mr. President?" The answer should be really clear: "you shipped them overseas, you NAFTA/CAFTA supporting idiot; now resign." But no one says that. And there's a reason. Our whole political class-- in a truly bipartisan way-- is completely corrupted. Corporate America finances our "democracy," underwriting the political careers of our politicians. That's the system. In return they get to write their own legislation. And when it has come to trade policy, it doesn't matter who's in power-- Democrats or Republicans-- trade policy is predicated on driving down the cost of labor at home and allowing U.S. companies to manufacture goods overseas and ship them back to home cheaply. That it has hollowed out the U.S. economy means nothing-- except to the American people... and that doesn't count since there hasn't been a politician's head on a pike in God knows how long.
A personal aside before I get into the names of potential pikees. I was driving home from a fundraiser tonight for a rare politician who would never sell out working families-- not if it cost him his life; very rare. He probably doesn't have much of a career in politics to look forward to. Anyway, I called my old friend to help while away the time-- let's call him Mr. Big. Mr. Big is a senior officer at a major American manufacturing company and Mr. Big sounded very, very depressed. "What's the matter, Mister Big? What's got you down." Short version: Mr. Big has $9,000,000 in stock options expiring next week and his company's stock is down-- way down. The $9,000,000 he was counting on is probably only going to yield $8,000,000. Mr. Big is thinking like someone is stealing $1,000,000. That's a lot of money; poor Mr. Big. He said the stock market is down because the country "is going away." Oh, no, I thought; I was at that fundraiser for hours; what happened?. "Where's it going," I asked. China, he shouted, accusitory-like. "But, Mr. Big, you guys manufacture all your
And not just Boehner. Do you hear the silence of Democrats not blaming him when he shrieks, "Where are the jobs, Mr. President?" No one from our political elite says, "You sent the jobs to China, you drunken, orange piece of crap; resign, resign, resign." So I should tell you why. Late in December 1992-- after Clinton had been elected president, promising to look out for working families-- George H.W. Bush sat down with two corporate shills for other countries, Brian Mulroney of Canada and Carlos Salinas from Mexico. They signed the NAFTA treaty, although Bush had been unable to fast track it through Congress and it was so unpopular in Canada that it destroyed Mulroney's Conservative Party.
Clinton pushed it through the House a year later (dirty work by Rahm Emanuel), 234 to 200-- 132 Republicans and, pay attention, 102 Democrats. It passed the Senate 61-38. This is a list of people currently in the Senate who voted that day and how they voted:
populist Daniel Akaka (D-HI)- NO
corporatist Max Baucus (D-MT)- YES
corporatist Robert Bennett (R-UT)- YES
corporatist Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)- YES
corporatist Kit Bond (R-MO)- YES
populist Barbara Boxer (D-CA)- NO
corporatist Dan Coats (R-IN)- YES (He was in the Senate then and is running-- and will probably win-- this year)
populist Kent Conrad (D-ND)- NO
corporatist Thad Cochran (R-MS)- YES
corporatist Chris Dodd (D-CT)- YES
populist Russ Feingold (D-WI)- NO
corporatist Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)- NO
corporatist Chuck Grassley (R-IA)- YES
corporatist Judd Gregg (R-NH)- YES
populist Tom Harkin (D-IA)- YES
corporatist Orrin Hatch (R-UT)- YES
corporatist Daniel Inouye (D-HI)- NO
corporatist John Kerry (D-MA)- YES
corporatist Herb Kohl (D-WI)- NO
quasi-populist Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)- NO
populist Patrick Leahy (D-VT)- YES
quasi-populist Carl Levin (D-MI)- NO
corporatist Joe Lieberman (I-CT)- YES
corporatist Dick Lugar (R-IN)- YES
corporatist John McCain (R-AZ)- YES
corporatist Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- YES
populist Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)- NO
quasi-populist Harry Reid (D-NV)- NO
corporatist John Rockefeller (D-WV)- NO
corporatist Shelby (D-- now R-- AL)- NO
corporatist Arlen Specter (R-- now D)- YES
I've bolded the ones who are up for reelection this year. Forget which party they're in. If they voted YES, they should be defeated, held responsible for what they did to America. If they voted NO, they earned a pat on the head for looking after their constituents' interests. There are too many members of the House to go through the same exercise. But let me just mention some standouts. In the YES column, the ones who voted to destroy the manufacturing base of the United States: current Tea Party leader Dick Armey (R-TX), oily Joe Barton (R-TX), John Boehner (R-OH), who we'll talk about a little more in depth below, Ken Calvert (R-CA), Mike Castle (R-DE), Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN), Nathan Deal (R-GA), David Dreier (R-CA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), John Kasich (R-OH), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Blanche Lambert Lincoln (Blue Dog-AR), Rick Lazio (R-NY), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Rob Portman (R-OH). Those should all be familiar names.
And who went against President Clinton and stood up to Rahm Emanuel's threats of retributions? Here are a few names among the 156 Democrats and 43 Republicans (few of whom are still in Congress): Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Barney Frank (D-MA), John Lewis (D-GA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ted Strickland (D-OH). Imagine the campaign ad Ted Strickland could run against Kacich, Portman and Boehner-- maybe throw in Pelosi-- in his current gubernatorial re-election bid. He won't.
Growing trade deficits and massive "job displacement" resulted, particularly after Bush came to office and ignored all the weak safeguards Clinton had put into the treaty to offer some semblance of protections for U.S. labor and environment. Close to a million net jobs have been lost to NAFTA, may more to similar "free trade" agreements since. Tragically, the vast majority of those jobs were relatively high-paying manufacturing jobs. In Mr. Boehner's Ohio, for example, 14,653 jobs were lost due to NAFTA-related reasons, primarily relocation of U.S. firms to Mexico.
Today Newsweek came out with an analysis Of John Boehner's economic vision for America: Few Jobs, Larger Deficits If Republicans Were In Charge:
Nothing is more important to Republican politicians these days than jobs and the deficit—at least according to Republican politicians. As House Minority Leader John Boehner put it in a "major economic address" Tuesday," President Obama is "doing everything possible to prevent jobs from being created" while refusing to do anything at all "about bringing down the deficits that threaten our economy." Elect Republicans in November, Boehner assured his audience, and we will put an end to this insanity.
There's only one problem with Boehner's message: so far, the things that Republicans have said they want to do won't actually boost employment or reduce deficits. In fact, much the opposite. By combing through a variety of studies and projections from nonpartisan economic sources, we here at Gaggle headquarters have found that if Republicans were in charge from January 2009 onward-- and if they were now given carte blanche to enact the proposals they want to enact-- the projected 2010-2020 deficits would be larger than they are under Obama, and fewer people would probably be employed.
The math is pretty straightforward. Let's start with the deficit.
The Republicans opposed the Stimulus (although do their best to take credit for the projects it funds back in their own districts) so that means their deficit would be zero compared to Obama's $814 billion. Was Boehner telling the truth? Of course not. Let's not forget healthcare. The same people who give the $814 billion to zero score on the Stimulus, give Obama's healthcare reform credit for bringing the deficit down by $30 billion over the next 10 years "while repealing the law would generate 'an increase in deficits ... of $455 billion ... over that [same] period.' Factors those figures into the equation and the Obama deficit falls to $784 billion. The GOP deficit, meanwhile, rises to $455 billion."
The final piece of the puzzle is the Bush tax cuts. Obama wants to extend them for the 95 percent of taxpayers making under $250,000 a year; Republicans want to extend them for everybody. How will these extensions affect the deficit? Glad you asked. According to data compiled by the Washington Post, "the Democratic proposal would add about $3 trillion to the deficit during the next decade, while the GOP plan would cost $3.7 trillion." That brings the total Obama deficit to $3.784 trillion over ten years, and its GOP counterpart to-- drumroll, please-- $4.155 trillion.
That's right. Even if we assume that the Republicans would've spent $0 to stimulate the economy in the wake of the largest economic collapse since the Great Depression-- an unlikely scenario, given the very real risks of inaction-- their proposed policies would still produce a deficit $371 billion larger than President Obama's.
(Or $335 billion; Boehner also says he'd like to freeze non-defense discretionary spending at 2008 levels, which would save a grand total of $36 billion.)
On jobs, it's a similar story. So far, Republicans have only said they'd do-- or that they would've done-- two large-scale things the Democrats haven't: 1) scrap the stimulus and 2) extend the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning over $250,000 so as not to (in Boehner's words) "impose job-killing tax hikes on families and small businesses."
How would these measures affect employment? Regarding the stimulus, the answer is pretty clear. In a report out this week, the CBO estimates that between 1.4 and 3.3 million fewer people would be employed right now if the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act had never made it through Congress. Split the difference, and the pro-stimulus Obama moves ahead of the anti-stimulus GOP by about 2.35 million jobs. (A more dramatic estimate by the economists Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi [a McCain 2008 adviser] puts the number at 2.7 million, but we'll stick with the CBO stats for now.)
...[I]t's unlikely that extending the cuts for the richest Americans would have much of an effect on small-business hiring, which is a claim that Republicans make with some regularity. Why? Because only two percent of taxpayers in the top two income brackets actually run small businesses. The other 98 percent of small-business owners make less than $250,000 a year and wouldn't pay higher taxes under Obama's plan.
History isn't on the GOP's side, either. If keeping the top marginal tax rate at 35 percent--the rate under Bush, and the rate that Republicans are fighting to preserve-- spurs so much hiring, why didn't America experience any job growth at all during Bush's time in office? And if a top marginal tax rate of 39.6 percent-- the rate under Bill Clinton, and the rate that Democrats are fighting to restore-- is such a job-killer, why did payrolls grow by 20 percent during the 1990s?
So is Boehner an idiot? Or just playing politics with the economy? Both? Too many numbers to figure out? Economists can twist numbers, you think. Well, one thing can't be twisted and interpreted away-- John Boehner push for and voted for every piece of trade legislation that's come down the pike that undermined the American labor market, from NAFTA right to the ones he was shilling for last week (Columbia, South Korea and God knows where else). He's working to do what Mr. Big says is destroying America-- killing the ability of America consumers to afford to buy even the cheap products made overseas. It's enough of a reason to vote him out of office and to help elect Justin Coussoule in his place.
UPDATE: The Most Coin-Operated Politician In Washington
Ed Schultz had Justin Coussoule on his MSNBC show again today. They took on Boehner's perfidy. Take a look: